Advertisers of online services such as Amazon and Flipkart will be given the “privacy boost” after the Supreme Court in its judgment in the Advertiser Clauses (privacy) case on Monday ruled that companies such as them must disclose the information of the advertisers on their sites.
In a strong verdict, the court said that if an online advertiser has given a service information about the user and his or her interests, it has to disclose it in a transparent manner.
“The Supreme Court has given clear instructions to all online advertisers to disclose the privacy details of their users in a straightforward manner,” the bench said in the order.
In its judgement, the bench observed that “all the online advertisers have been left in the dark as to the privacy status of their customers” and had “failed to comply with the instructions”.
The judgement also noted that the privacy protection for online advertisements is not the same as for offline advertisements.
The bench also observed that online ads are “not free from scrutiny”.
“The advertising market has to be looked at in terms of its social dimension, which includes social media and social networks.
It has to take into account how people use the internet and what they do online.
This also includes privacy concerns and how the online advertisement is accessed,” it said.
It added that “the privacy status is not an objective of a company.
It is a product of the advertiser.”
The court noted that, in terms “of privacy protection, it is not feasible to specify which online advertisers get the privacy boost”.
The Bench, however, clarified that the court cannot decide the question of whether online advertising is an efficient use of the resources available to advertisers.
“Privacy is not a question of fact.
It cannot be a question for which it is established that a company has a right to make use of that privacy.
Privacy is a subjective matter,” it added.
The court said online advertising companies will have to provide the information in a “fair, reasonable and transparent manner”.
It said the court was “proud of the fact that we have found a solution that ensures privacy for all online users” and said the Supreme Committee for Online Privacy (SOCP) was “fully aware” of the court’s judgment.
It said SOCP has issued a letter of assurance to all the companies.